Spice Route in the Bible
The spice trade is already mentioned in the Biblical story of Joseph: Genesis (37:25):
“ Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ish'maelites coming
from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it
down to Egypt”. The meeting of queen Sena, and King Solomon (Kings 10:1) is a
continued account of the active spice trade in the
region. By the late 4th century BC, the Nabatean appear in the
region as a the dominant spice traders. For about 700 years they controlled
the spice trade. With their wisdom and knowledge of the desert they connected
the South Arab spices with the demands of the Roman World. In their glory days
their the Nabatean kingdom expanded from Yemen in the south to Damescus.
It contain large portion of Edom, Moab, Negev and
South Arabia. Who were those Nabateans and where did they come from?
Little is known about the origins of the Nabatean. Josephus Flavius, the Jewish
historian, claims that the Nabatean are the descendents of Ishmael first
born son Nabataioi, Genesis ( 25:13).
Most historians begin to cite the Nabateans in 586 BC,
when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and expelled all Jews.
They made their first definite appearance in 312 BC. A Seleucid officer named
Hieronymus of Cardia mentioned them in a battle report. They had developed a
jsfitable trade in asphalt, which they mined from Dead Sea and sold to Egypt.
Hieronymus was sent to wrest it away from them, but they repulsed him. In 50 BC
a Greek historian named Diodorus Siculus cited
Hieronymus in his report. Diodorus adds the
"Just as the Seleucids had tried to subdue them, so the Romans made several
attempts to get their hands on that lucrative trade."
,in the year 106 AD, to annex the Nabatean kingdom.
In the Byzantine period the Nabatean mostly lived from agriculture which flourished in the area and was
their main source of income. The Spice Route stations in the Negev such
as: Avdat, Mamshit, Halutza, Shivta, Nitzana turned into cities: With the
Islamic conquest in the 7 AD the Nabatean were absorbed completely into the
Islamic world and the Nabatean entity disappeared from the pages of history.